Page:A Compendium of Irish Biography.djvu/554

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search
This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.

dependence of Ireland. Within a few years two of them by their death on the scaffold, one by his own hands in prison, and one in exile, had proved the sincerity with which they had made the engagement. On 13th June Tone and his family sailed in the Cinncinnatus for Wilmington—300 passengers in a ship of 230 tons. They had a tolerably fine voyage of seven weeks; but were boarded by officers from British cruisers, who pressed fifty of the passengers and all but one of their crew. Nothing but the tears and entreaties of his wife and sister prevented Tone being carried off with the others. "It would have been a pretty termination to my adventures. … The insolence of these tyrants, as well to myself as to my poor fellow passengers, in whose fate a fellowship in misfortune had interested me, I have not since forgotten, and I never will." They landed at Wilmington 1st August; and at Philadelphia, where they arrived a few days later, he met his friends Hamilton Rowan and Dr. Reynolds. Furnished with a letter of introduction from Rowan, two resolutions of thanks from the Catholic Committee, and the certificate of his enrolment as an Irish Volunteer, he waited on Adet, the French Minister, and explained to him his plans for a French invasion of Ireland. Adet spoke English imperfectly; Tone, French a great deal worse: but they managed to understand one another, and at the Minister's request Tone prepared a memorial. Then, feeling he had done his duty, he bought a farm near Princeton, fitted up a study, and began to think of settling down as an American farmer. In the autumn he received letters from Keogh, Russell, and Simms, informing him of the advance of revolutionary opinions in Ireland, and imploring him, if possible, to force his way to the French government, and supplicate its active assistance. He consulted with Rowan, and again saw Adet, who now entered warmly into his plans, and furnished him with a letter to the Committee of Public Safety in France. The conduct of Mrs. Tone was singularly self-forgetful. She concealed from her husband the fact of a probable early increase in their family, and implored him to let no consideration stand in the way of his duty to his country. He drew upon Simms for £250, £100 of which he left with his wife; he sent his brother Arthur to Ireland, to inform the leaders that he was starting for France, and to tell his parents that he was settling on a farm: he spent a day in Philadelphia with Rowan, Reynolds, and Napper Tandy; and, at four o'clock on a December morning, embraced his wife, children, and sister, and set off for New York.—"The courage and firmness of the women supported me; … we had neither tears nor lamentations; but, on the contrary, the most ardent hope and the most steady resolution." On 1st January 1796 he sailed from New York, and landed at Havre on 1st February. It was now that Wolfe Tone commenced his remarkable Journal, scarcely to be equalled in interest by any similar record in the English language, except perhaps Swift's Journal to Stella, on which it is probably modelled. It commences the day after his arrival in France, and continues uninterruptedly till 1st January 1797, the morning of his return from the Bantry Bay expedition. It is resumed on the 1st of the following month, and continued with less minuteness (one entry sometimes covering a month) until 30th June 1798, before his last and fatal expedition. Besides this, commencing on 7th August 1796, with the words, "As I shall embark in a business, within a few days, the event of which is uncertain," he wrote out some particulars of his past career, which expanded into a memoir of his life to the time of his arrival in France. In the Journal he unreservedly records all his doings—whether it is " a sad rainy day, and I am not well, and the blue devils torment me," or whether he tells of his confidential interviews with Camot. His "dearest love" and his "darling babies" are ever present in his thoughts. Thomas Russell is constantly referred to by the pseudonym of "P.P." Without friends, with but an imperfect knowledge of French, and a small sum of money which soon ran out, and having no credentials but Adet's letter and the resolutions of the Catholic Committee, he was a few days after his arrival in Paris, in intimate communication with the heads of the French government. He passed openly as citizen Smith, but was known to the Government under his true name. His views were warmly seconded by Madgett, an exiled Irishman, engaged in the Foreign Ministry. On the 24th February he had an interview with Camot at the Luxembourg. Tone writes: "I am a pretty fellow to negotiate with the Directory of France, pull down a monarchy and establish a republic; to break a connexion of 600 years' standing, and contract a fresh alliance with another country." Again: "Here I am, with exactly two louis in my exchequer, negotiating with the French Government, and planning revolutions. I must say it is truly original." He presented two memorials to the Government,